The coal ministry is identifying 15-20 blocks for the next – third – round of auction, but cannot give a deadline for completing the process for all 204 blocks whose allotments were annulled by the Supreme Court, Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal said on Thursday.
“Fifteen to 20 coal blocks are being identified (for auction) and we are hopeful that the mining from these blocks could start soon,” Goyal told reporters here after launching the ministry’s coal project monitoring portal.
“I don’t think that a timeline can be set for all 204 (blocks) because several of them are unexplored and several of them were alloted earlier based on irrational criteria. I would like to do the whole job very systematically,” he added.
The government earlier this month completed the auction of 33 coal mines in two rounds.
On Tuesday, as per the privisions of the coal ordinance now made into law by parliament, the government allotted 37 mines to central and state-run power units, and one to the Steel Authority of India Ltd.
In a statement later, the coal ministry said that the “e-CPMP (online coal project monitoring portal) has been developed for tracking projects that entail an investment related to coal” and will “improve the communication between industries to government, government to government, or vice versa”.
Coal Secretary Anil Swarup said the portal “marks a new beginning in the process towards making everything transparent in coal, so that nothing gets leaked”.
The Delhi High Court had on Monday granted interim relief to Jindal Steel and Power Ltd. and restrained the central government from allocating to Coal India the two coal blocks – for which JSPL had emerged as the successful bidder in the recent round of auctions.
The ministry said last week it was “re-examining” nine winning bids out of the 33 coal blocks auctioned so far, on whether there were any price discrepancies in case of the nine winning bids, including those made by companies like Jindal Steel and Balco.
It was considering whether these bids were too low when compared with the winning bids for other similar blocks through an analytical tool called “outlier”, which looks for unusual observations that are far removed from the mass of data. (IANS)